Achieving Smooth Finish On Pre-Primed MDF Trim


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Old 04-03-14, 11:09 PM
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Achieving Smooth Finish On Pre-Primed MDF Trim

I bought the standard 3 1/4" pre-primed MDF trim and I am planning to paint it semi-gloss white, but after painting one piece today I am not happy with the results. The trim is pre-primed with a very smooth surface.

I am using Behr Premium Plus Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel with a 4.5" low nap woven roller (3/8" nap) Here.

The initial coat came off the roller in kind of an orange peel texture. It dried pretty quickly and leveled out just a little bit, but still left a bumpy looking surface. Definitely noticeable. I also brushed a small section and it looks way better, albeit with brush marks.

(click to enlarge)


Do I need better paint? Or a better roller? Seems like that if the roller left the initial texture, then getting a roller that doesn't do that will solve my problem. Fancier paint might just have better self leveling properties? I have been happy with the Behr paint so far, but I have only been painting textured walls, not super smooth trim.

A painter friend suggested I get a low profile mohair roller as well as some fancy SW paint. If a different roller will solve my problem, I'd rather not spend 2X the money on paint.

Help!
 
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Old 04-04-14, 04:56 AM
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Typically you paint trim with a brush. A roller will inherently leave a texture of sorts. If you must use a roller I suggest a sponge type. It will reduce the textured look.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 05:34 AM
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I don't like foam rollers/brushes .... but I am an old school painter

A 1/4" mohair roller cover will do a decent job of applying enamel on woodwork. Another option is to keep using your 3/8" cover and then 'tipping off' the paint with a brush - that will eliminate any/all roller stipple.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 06:02 AM
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Whoa, I had to look at the pic a few times to see the orange peel finish being left. That's really bizarre. Painting is sometimes a dynamic adventure and you have to be willing to try different things given different materials, etc.

I've rolled out miles and miles of trim with various types of rollers, my favourite being a 4" high pile trim roller. I agree with Mark that foam rollers and brushes are garbage in general, but in a pinch they can come in handy.

Generally brushing out the trim will leave the smoothest finish. Marks idea of rolling first then backbrushing is a good one, but you'd better be quick to make sure the paint doesn't start setting up before you get to it with the brush.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 06:27 AM
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I use a 6" foam hotdog style roller on trim and doors, then hit the details with a 2-1/2" sash brush and it comes out as smooth as if it was sprayed.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 07:02 AM
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Paint will make a big difference as well. Some paints level out way better than others. You can even find some latex paints that look as good as oil, if you apply it properly.

Use a roller with a shorter nap and make sure you're not squeezing every last drop of paint out of it. Let the roller do the work. Once it's on the wall, you'll probably want to hit it again with a brush after you've caulked any gaps between the trim and the wall.


Sort of related: mdf is complete garbage. You'd be doing yourself a huge favour by stepping up to pine. You absolutely cannot sand the mdf without ruining it, plus it's not going to age well.


If it was me, I'd save up a few more bucks and get new trim (return the old stuff) and get a better paint. Total price difference is likely to be less than 40%
 
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Old 04-04-14, 07:10 AM
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Absolutely a good point about the paint making a huge difference. From one brand to another. As well, even within brands. Each paint manufacturer makes different grades that perform differently.

For example Ben Moore produces Aura which has an incredibly fast dry time and can look great if you can keep up with it, or can look absolutely horrible if you can't. I tend to use Regal, which is one step below Aura and never fails to produce good results. For me at least.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 07:15 AM
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Paint is strange, even if sticking to the same brand.

For example: I used Dulux Diamond with a 'pearl' sheen on a big job. It was used on metal doors and frames. It covered extremely well, 1 primer and 1 finish was fine, but we did 2 finish anyway since the client was picky. Now, I bought a gallon of that same paint for use at home. Plain white, with no tint (for some trim) and it doesn't cover worth ****. I've had to put 1 primer and 4 coats on a new metal frame in my basement and it still has a fee shadows I can see. In this case, adding any sort of colour to it would likely make a huge difference.

Edit: I forgot to mention, I have a half gallon of the same paint in semi-gloss and it covers perfectly fine. (both untinted, white base)
 

Last edited by m_bisson; 04-04-14 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 04-04-14, 07:23 AM
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I've never considered one coat of paint to be satisfactory no matter what brand/grade I use. If you're doing plain white and it's taking four coats of paint, there's something wrong happening, or the paint is garbage.

A short while ago I was painting a bathroom for a customer. I went to pick up the paint at the local Ben Moore retailer. They said they didn't have any of the base I required in stock, but they could trick the paint to work for the colour I needed using a different base. I trusted them so I said "sure let's do it". Never again will I allow anyone to try that. First coat went on horribly. It looked like the cheapest kids water colour paint you've ever seen. It was going to take 4 or more coats to work properly. I gave up, went back to the shop and got a gallon in a better grade with the correct base.

No problems. Lesson learned.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 07:59 AM
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A high quality waterborne enamel trim paint, like what you would get at a paint store (not box store) will flow out a little better, provided you work fast and don't keep going back and forth through it. Using the wrong roller and working too slow- giving it that one last final rolling- could be part of the problem... the paint is getting tacky by the time you get done with each piece. The mohair hot dog roller is what you should be using in the first place, so switching to that a no brainer. You should probably try that first before you go splurge on better paint.

The other option would be an oil based trim enamel, which would also flow out better since it dries slower.

Brushing and rolling can look good if you do it right but will never give you the "flawless" look of a sprayed on finish.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 08:14 AM
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I often find here in Canada (Vancouver, and here in Ontario at least), no paint stores I've used stock waterborne enamels. I've read about them on here, and asked about them in the stores but the staff have always just said that they could possibly special order them.

Oil paints have been on the liquidation shelves for over a year now and are mostly gone with the exception of some specialty paints like sign paint, etc.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 08:41 AM
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Wow! Thanks everyone for the responses!

I did a little more research after posting this question and found that brushing is the preferred way to go about it, as most of you have said. Either that or rolling and back brushing. Did see some account of using a fine mohair roller with a good paint (e.g. SW Proclassic) that has better leveling properties.

The Behr paint I have just dries so fast, or at least gets tacky within minutes...doesn't leave much time to self-level. This is a bit different than the Behr eggshell enamel that I used for the walls/ceilings which took quite a while to set up. I put that on the walls/ceilings using a nice 1/2" nap lambskin roller and it smoothed right out and looks great. Even the edges where I had to hit it with the brush smoothed out.

I did try quickly brushing a quick section of the trim before work this morning, working with the paint as little as possible. Dried up quick, like I said, but still left the paint strokes...not much leveling out. The brush is a 2" sash with chinex bristles.

I think I'll just pony up and get some nicer paint (and a fine mohair roller). Heard good stuff about the SW Proclassic. I'm not super concerned about the base, but I also have to paint some jambs and case moulding, as well as the 6-panel doors (might spray those), all of which would be more noticeable since they are at eye level.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:02 AM
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You could try adding Flood's Floetrol or XIM's Xtends to your latex paint. They slow down the drying time which can help the paint flow together better reducing brush marks or roller stipple.

I'd think twice before using an oil base enamel. While it does brush well, whites will yellow with time and if you ever want to switch back to latex you'd need to first apply a coat of solvent based primer. Personally, I really like SWP's ProClassic waterborne enamel. It dries almost as hard as oil base but won't yellow. IMO it's some of the best enamel I've ever used.

While I agree MDF isn't the best trim out there it does paint beautifully! Do you have a good place to spray the doors? While I always did a lot of spraying, I rarely ever sprayed in an occupied home - prep and clean up eat up any time savings, overspray can and will go everywhere!
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:06 AM
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SW ProClassic waterborne is my favorite too.

I'm kind of partial to the Purdy nylon/polyester brushes. Haven't used the chinex, but if it's anything like a china bristle, it is probably leaving more brush strokes than a nylon/polyester brush would, which is purely a latex brush, not a "multipurpose" or "all paints" brush.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:14 AM
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Ya, Purdy is #1 in my book when it comes to brushes! While there are some other decent brush manufactures, when I buy a Purdy I know I've bought a brush that will preform well. Which brush [size, material, shape, etc] to use depends on the job and coating. I've probably always had a dozen or more different Purdy brushes on hand at any time ..... but then I did paint for a living
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:18 AM
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Mark, I saw the Xtends stuff, but instead of trying that out I think I'll just get some better paint. I have a SWP store nearby, so I think I'll give ProClassic Acrylic Latex Enamel a try.

I was planning to use one of my rooms for spraying before I painted the walls/ceilings, but I got ahead of myself and forgot...ended up painting the room. So, I might just hang some plastic in the garage for a makeshift booth, or just brush/roll it...the old 6-panel doors I took out were brushed (probably w/ cheap paint, too) and even though there were brush strokes, the textured door panel broke it up and you couldn't even notice unless your face was on it.

X, I believe the Chinex isn't anything like the china bristle...it's just Dupont's synthetic bristle. Other than that I don't know how it compares to just a plain nylon/polyester brush.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:21 AM
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Just took a look at the ProClassic...I see a few different types. Is the waterborne the same as the acrylic latex? I didn't see anything that said "waterborne".
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:34 AM
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I'm retired and haven't been in the SWP store in awhile. Used to be ProClassic only came in oil base or waterborne. They all come in satin, semi-gloss and gloss. Paints change all the time, they may have added latex or discontinued the waterborne or maybe morphed the waterborne into latex. Probably best to ask them at the store. I did see in the last flier they sent me that they now have waterborne enamel in the ProMar 200 line of paint. I've used a lot of ProMar 200 [mostly on walls] over the years as it's their best 'lower priced' interior coating line. I wouldn't be scared to try the ProMar 200 waterborne but I never have used it.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:44 AM
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If it's a 'waterborne' in the promar 200 line then it's just acrylic latex.


Also, to help keep things straight, enamel refers to the hardness of the finish. You don't have to get a high-gloss enamel, and 'enamel' doesn't automatically mean oil/alkyd based.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:49 AM
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They have 2 similar water-based ProClassic products which is probably what you are seeing. The 3rd is oil based.

ProClassic® Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel - Homeowners - Sherwin-Williams
ProClassic® Interior Waterbased Acrylic-Alkyd Enamel - Homeowners - Sherwin-Williams

The acrylic-alkyd is their premium ProClassic paint, and has the latest technology, low VOC, etc.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:52 AM
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I suspect the waterbased acrylic-alkyd might be the waterborne with a new name. A low tech explanation of what is waterborne enamel is kind of a cross between oil base and latex. It has a lot of the properties of oil but cleans up, dries fast and low odor of latex.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:52 AM
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Just talked to my brother-in-law who is a painter and strictly uses SWP. He said he uses the "Acrylic Latex", which is all I need. Was going to ask him what he thought about the ProMar stuff. At least he said I can pay under his account and get his pricing...so that helps!

Edit: he said the ProMar paint is wall paint, so I should stick with the ProClassic Acrylic Latex Enamel.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:59 AM
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I've never been overly fond of latex enamels on woodwork but I'm an old school painter and the old oil enamel was superior to the old latex. The paint rep gave me a gallon of ProClassic waterborne to try when it first came out. Between how well the paint preformed and me suffering from occupational overexposure to solvents - I was sold in short order! None of my customers missed the oil enamel after I switched.

Most of the ProMar line is wall paint but they also have trim enamel in that line.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 10:17 AM
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Yeah, here it is:

ProMar® 200 Interior Waterbased Acrylic-Alkyd Paint - Property & Facility Managers - Sherwin-Williams

Anymore, it seems that the term "latex" often is seen on labels for "old technology" paints, although most customers don't really make that connection. All most consumers think of is latex (water based) vs oil. Newer technology paints often use the words waterborne or water-based. In the end, its all semantics and marketing.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 12:58 PM
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That is probably what was on the SWP flier that came in the mail, my brain probably converted the label to waterborne. I believe waterbase acrylic-alklyd is the same as what they first marketed as waterborne ..... but then I'm not a chemist, just one of the smucks that slaps it on the wall and trim
 
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Old 04-04-14, 01:46 PM
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Hey Mark, I remember using water base enamel from Kelly Moore about 20 years ago. I could use it but it was extremely difficult for most and certainly a nightmare with the diy'er. It was a great finish. They've only been here (Australia) for a short time. I'm assuming one must adhere (no pun intended lol) to the fact, if painting over oil base, sand and undercoat as usual?

Rickaroonie
 
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Old 04-04-14, 01:58 PM
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Ya, IMO there is no substitute for sanding and using a solvent based primer when applying latex over oil base enamel! I know there are latex primers that claim they'll adhere to oil enamel but I have more confidence in the tried and true use of a solvent based primer.

I'm sure I've used some Kelly Moore coatings but it's been a long time and never used enough to have an opinion, least ways not one I remember.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 11:58 AM
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Well, I picked up a can of ProClassic Acrylic Latex as well as the small hotdog mohair roller. If I didn't have my brother-in-laws pricing, I probably wouldn't have bought it. At ~$90/gal, its not cheap.

I experimented quite a bit with it: mohair roller, brush, heavy, light, etc. I also tried the mohair out with the Behr paint. The mohair roller did a better job then the other roller I have, but it still left a textured look. Even with loading up the roller as much as I could and laying it on thick (hoping it would level out), it still wasn't as smooth as I was expecting. Maybe my expectations are too high.

The best result I got was just brushing it out, laying it on pretty heavy and letting it level out. My problem with brushing before was that I wasn't being generous enough with the paint; putting it on a bit heavier allowed it to set up longer and level out more. You can still see brush strokes under the right light/angle, but since they are going with the length of the trim, it is hardly noticeable.

Now I brushed two pieces side by side, one with the SWP and one with Behr. I couldn't really tell a difference...I expected the SWP to level out more, but the finished from both look the same.

I'm going to see if I can get a softer bristle brush than I already have...it'll make it look even better, even though what I could produce with the brush I have is pretty good.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 12:06 PM
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Ya, IMO there is no substitute for sanding and using a solvent based primer when applying latex over oil base enamel! I know there are latex primers that claim they'll adhere to oil enamel but I have more confidence in the tried and true use of a solvent based primer.
Bullseye 123 would probably stick to icecubes... For a while.

The carpenters I've worked with hate to be around the stuff when I'm using it because I constantly threaten to get some on them!

When you get home and clean your brushes, scrub your hands, have a shower, eat and do the dishes.... and the stuff is still on your hands, you know you have a good primer. Give the oil base enamel a good scuff sand and I would use 123 without hesitation.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 02:40 PM
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123 is good for stain blocking too. Stops markers (sharpie) from bleeding through, as well as most glues.

Had a really weird reaction on my current job, though. The glue swelled up after the 123 (though not after the regular primer) and was basically sticking out from the block about 2or3 millimeters. Had to use shellac over it.
 
 

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